Life after trafficking

Lety Cruz | Mexico

OM Mexico team member Lety Cruz has worked with the Dreams ministry for abused women for some time now, but she still clearly remembers meeting Rocio* in 2013, as she was the first victim of human trafficking Lety had ever met.

A friend of Lety had called asking if she could meet with a woman who was concerned about her six-year-old daughter. The friend said that the woman thought her daughter had been sexually abused. Because Lety works in art therapy, the friend had thought to call her.

Lety made an appointment for the next day. The next morning they came, and Lety saw that the woman was carrying a two-month-old baby boy but was not accompanied by a little girl.    

“She was 26 years old, but looked a lot older—like 40,” Lety said of Rocio. “I asked her why she didn't bring her daughter.” Rocio said her daughter was at her sister’s place.

“That answer did sound a bit strange to me,” remembered Lety. “I also noticed some scars on her arms and face, so I asked my friend to help her with the baby boy for a moment, because I needed to talk alone with Rocio.

“I asked her again, ‘Why is your daughter not with you?’ Rocio started crying. She told me that her father-in-law tried to abuse her, so she decided to hide her daughter with her sister. I suggested to go to the authorities to let them know about her situation. But she said, ‘No, please!’ I asked her why not and told her she was not alone. Then she started crying helplessly.

“A few minutes later, she was able to share her terrible and unbelievable story as a victim of human trafficking.”

Where are you?

Rocio was 15 years old when her father passed away. Her mother remarried a man who drank and physically took his aggression out on those at home. One day when her stepfather was drunk, Rocio went for a walk on the streets and met a young man. He was the first man to ever say nice words to her.

After being together for only a few days, the young man proposed to Rocio. He asked her to run away with him and get married. This was the opportunity Rocio had been looking for. She said yes and ran away with him to another city, far from home, where they got married.

During their wedding night, Rocio was raped by her new husband and his friend. The following night, her husband sent her out to prostitute herself and threatened to kill her if she didn't obey.

For 10 years, Rocio was kept naked during the day and tied up in the backyard at night. She became pregnant and had a baby girl, named Maranatha.

One day her husband decided they should go to a Christian church on Sundays. He told Rocio not to talk to anyone. If she did, he'd sell her baby, just like he had her.

Rocio couldn't understand why God allowed this endless suffering. “Where are you?” she asked the Lord often.

Finally, she found an escape. One day her husband was so drunk that Rocio got away with her five-year-old daughter. She ran until she found a small town, but nobody there would help them. She started collecting plastic bottles to gain money to feed her child. Rocio decided to find her sister, but her father-in-law found her instead. He offered to help her take care of Maranatha while Rocio collected plastic bottles.

Life seemed better until one day Rocio noticed that Maranatha was sad and only wanted to take long showers. And she had started wetting the bed. Rocio asked Maranatha what was wrong. The girl confessed that her grandfather was touching her inappropriately and threatened to take her to her father if she said something to Rocio.

Rocio was so angry she took Maranatha to her sister, just in case her father-in-law, or even her husband, tried to take her away.

The next step

"The next day, Rocio talked to my friend, who used to buy plastic bottles from her," shared Lety. "She asked for help, and my friend called me. Since that day, the Dreams ministry has been helping Rocio to build a new life."

Dreams, a ministry of OM, is focused on women and children at risk in Mexico City and Hermosillo.

"We want to empower them through education and exercising their human rights," said Lety. "We want to let them know how valuable they are and change the wrong idea they have in their minds about themselves. We provide art therapy, individual counselling and sociological screening to identify any factors of abuse or trafficking. We also try to meet their emotional and psychological needs."

The Dreams team gets in touch with most of the women by weekly interacting with girls in prostitution on the streets.

"Thank God Rocio's husband was caught by the police and is now in prison,” shared Lety. “I was able to give therapy to Rocio and her daughter, and we helped her find a church and psychologist, who could follow up with her. She got married again and has a baby boy. She's still collecting plastic bottles and selling them to get money. But soon I hope to visit her again in the city where she lives to help her with the next step: to empower her to develop her own small business."

Praise God that Rocio and her children are safe and are building a new life. Pray for the thousands of other women who have not yet found an escape. Pray that God will use the Dreams ministry to change the lives of many more.

*Name changed

Published: Monday, 24 August 2015
Credit: Lety Cruz
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